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Golden Globes Film Reviews January 13, 2009

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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I love watching movies.  I also love writing.  So it’s only natural that I also like to review films.  So far I’ve got 431 reviews and 1202 movie ratings on Flixter, so that says a lot (and that’s just what I can remember).

With the Golden Globe winners announced yesterday, I thought it would be a good time to share a few short reviews on some of the movies I’ve seen that were nominated (taken straight from Flixter). It’s also a good way to give my blog some much needed padding in its baby stage.  I’ll add more if and when I see them (and there’s A LOT I still want to see).  Feel free to agree/berate my ratings, which by the way are out of 5.

slumdog-millionaireSlumdog Millionaire (4 stars)

A feel-good love story centred around a slum-grown Indian boy who shocks the nation by killing the questions on Who Wants to be A Millionaire. This was another one of those films that got hyped up too much, but for the most part it was entertaining and eye-opening. Some of the scenes of Mumbai were just amazing. Poses interesting questions about destiny and fate, but I wished it would focus less on the romance and concentrate more on everything else. The Bollywood dance sequences at the end are a must-see.

frost-nixonFrost/Nixon (4 stars)

Don’t know how faithful the whole thing was to what actually happened but it is a great film; a compelling, thrilling, enjoyable couple of hours. Much of that had to do with the performances, especially Frank Langella as Nixon. However, best to avoid the previews before seeing this one – reveals way too much.

the-wrestlerThe Wrestler (5 stars)

An uncompromising, moving film about an old, washed up wrestler. If nothing else, it has given me a new found respect for the participants in this ‘sport’ which I still don’t get. All the wrestling scenes were done magnificently – real and visceral and cringeworthy. Mickey Rourke’s performance was unbelievable – very controlled, subtle, but emotional; and physically he totally looked the part.

the-readerThe Reader (4.5 stars)

A faithful and masterful adaptation of a brilliant book about German guilt from the Holocaust. It was done with a lot of poise and grace, drawing a fine line between understanding and sympathy. The performances were just remarkable – it wouldn’t have worked at all without the excellence of the three actors playing the two leads.

vicky-cristina-barcelonaVicky Cristina Barcelona (2.5 stars)

Probably deserved a little more but I was quite disappointed. Definitely not one of Woody’s best. Basically a lot of very pretty, not very likable people shagging each other and wondering why they aren’t happy. It has some interesting issues but just aren’t really explored properly and wasn’t particularly funny.

in-brugesIn Bruges (3.5 stars)

The town is a little overrated in my opinion but the film was very good – simple, dark, quirky, and sometimes downright bizarre – but all very funny.

pineapple-expressPineapple Express (4 stars)

I always thought Judd Apatow’s previous films were overrated, so this one was definitely a pleasant surprise. It started out as a typical stoner movie but then just went off the rails and got very hilarious and unpredictably weird, almost like the stoners lost track of their reality. It was a strange mixture of “ordinary” jokes and just “crazy” jokes that don’t make any sense at all, but it all added up to a fun experience. James Franco was a surprising revelation – I had no idea he had such good comedic timing. A lot of laugh out loud moments.

untitledBurn After Reading (4.5 stars)

The best Coen Brothers’ comedy since Fargo! Laugh out loud funny from the very first scene. This is the exact type of humour that they are masters at delivering. All the performances were great (though strangely Frances McDormand was the weakest link) with Pitt and Malkovich being the standouts. A very unusual, quirky, unpredictable film with great dialogue. It’s great to see the Coens make such a different film straight after No Country For Old Men (equally brilliant but in a completely different way).

tropic-thunder2Tropic Thunder (2.5 stars)

The first 15 minutes or so were fantastic, hilarious and witty – and I was totally psyched for one of the best comedies of the year. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie was nowhere close. A few minor laughs and giggles here and there, but for the most part it was a patchy, unfunny mess where nothing really happened and the jokes went stale quickly. Ben Stiller was decent but he’s clearly been better. Robert Downey Jr was the standout, but he could have been and should have been funnier. Jack Black’s comedic talents were criminally underused or abused (or perhaps both). Matthew McConaughey was terrible as usual. And Tom Cruise was a nice surprise but he wasn’t as funny as he wanted to be or thought he was. Two stars for the first 15 minutes and half for the rest.

changelingChangeling (4.5 stars)

I had no idea this was a Clint Eastwood film until the end credits, but it was not surprising because the film was very long and it was freakin’ brilliant. The first hour or so was more or less what you would expect from the previews, but from there the film took an unexpected turn (for me) and became wonderfully compelling and tragically heartbreaking. It was almost like two separate movies, which may irk some people but because I did not expect it I found it welcoming. The performances were all quite good. I don’t think it was an Oscar-worthy performance by Jolie but it was still excellent.

MIA_RGB-1-Sheet_21PMamma Mia! (2.5 stars)

Mmm…feel like this should have remained a stage musical. Was it entertaining? Every now and then. Was it funny? Very occasionally. Was the singing any good? Well, Meryl Streep was pretty decent but the 3 guys were not exactly singers, especially Pierce Brosnan, who tried his best but was almost laughable… (NB: I have since decided that it was laughable).

the-dark-knightThe Dark Knight (4.5 stars)

Awesome, awesome, awesome. I’m rating this as highly as Iron Man, but they are two very different action-hero movies. This was heavy and extremely dark, but so exciting and brilliant. Batman kind of takes a back seat in this one as the villains dominate, but he’s not forgotten either. Great job by Nolan in balancing so many great characters. Everyone will say this, but Heath Ledger was the clear standout, his presence overwhelming every scene he is in. Aaron Eckhart was also very very good.

kung-fu-pandaKung Fu Panda (3 stars)

A bit of a disappointment after so much build up. It was funny in some bits but certainly nowhere near as funny as I expected or wanted it to be.

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Comments»

1. Inspiredworlds - January 14, 2009

burn after reading was a weird film.intriguing but didn’t know what to expect and ended too abruptly.

You killed tropic thunder with your review! it was so awesome. Tom cruise was so over the top, it was hilarious.

pacejmiller - January 14, 2009

I like that kind of stuff from the Coens. Keeps you wondering what the crap just happened.

Tropic Thunder was the kind of film that had a few good laughs but could have been so much better. I guess you need to be in the right mood. Unfortunately I wasn’t – saw this at an advanced screening and the start got delayed by over an hour because they waited too long and the encryption key on the digital print expired, so they had to call LA (in the middle of the night over there) to get another one! I usually like Tom Cruise a lot, but maybe I just watched an anti-Scientology documentary or something, hehe.

2. coffee - January 14, 2009

i was wondering what happened to Mickey Rourke, then there he was at the Golden Globes

3. Matthew Ho - January 15, 2009

@ pacejmiller: check this out from the facebook blog on movies

http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=47065697130

4. Update: Golden Globe Film Reviews « About Writing - The Personal Blog of An Aspiring Writer - January 23, 2009

[…] Globes, Gran Torino, Movie Reviews, WALL-E trackback I did a post not long ago reviewing the films that were nominated for the Golden Globes.  I guess I should now also be adding the Oscar nominated films to that […]

5. Oscars/Golden Globes Film Reviews Part III « About Writing - The Personal Blog of An Aspiring Writer - February 21, 2009

[…] my short Flixter film reviews and possibly the best of the lot!  The first instalment can be found here (Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Wrestler, The Reader, Vicki Cristina Barcelona, In Bruges, […]

6. Oscars 09: who should win and who will « About Writing - The Personal Blog of An Aspiring Writer - February 21, 2009

[…] to see most of the nominated films for the major catgories that are available to me (see reviews here, here and here).  While I initially predicted the winners and losers when the nominations first […]


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